I love the holiday season, BUT this time of year I find myself being stretched so thin! With this being one of the busiest months of the year for my work, keeping up with my toddler, and everything else that goes with the holidays, it can be hard to find time to make a nice, and healthy, dinner at the end of the day. Luckily I was invited to the Minute® Rice Minute Meals Ugly Sweater party. I was excited to learn more about the product, and create a sponsored post allowing me to get creative in the kitchen, one of my favorite things to do. Minute® Rice wants to inspire busy families to sit down to have dinner together by cutting down the time to prepare food. The Minute® Rice Minute Meals party I attended included other bloggers, great food, and fun games!
I loved wearing an “ugly” holiday sweater, even though I think this little snowman was pretty cute.
The food was really good! There was a rice “stuffing” (top right), a banana bread baked with rice, and a cheesy rice, brussels sprout, and chicken casserole, which happened to be my favorite.
They had a really fun Photo Booth set up!
Lastly, we did a blindfolded gift wrapping competition… I lost!
Such a fun group of talented bloggers!
I know this may sound strange, but I love salads. They are a great way to enjoy seasonal produce throughout the year. During the winter months I actually like making warm salads by using a warm grain, like brown rice, and pair it up with a green, like kale, that will hold up to the heat. Kale is so sturdy that it won’t wilt, but the heat softens it nicely.
I like to add some different colors, flavors, and textures to really bring this warm brown rice and kale salad to life. Cranberries are a classic holiday food, so it is fun to use them this time of year. Dried cranberries add a chewy texture, as well as a bright, and slightly sweet, taste to the salad. I also love the red color of the cranberries mixed with the green kale, it’s very appropriate for the holidays.
Fresh fennel isn’t a commonly used ingredient, but it happens to be one that I love to use in a number of dishes. When fennel is raw it has a refreshing taste and crunch, with a slight anise flavor. When cooked, the flavor softens, and becomes slightly sweet. For this salad I like to keep the fennel raw to maintain a great freshness and crunch.
Pine nuts are also another easy way to add flavor and crunch to a dish. Roasted pine nuts taste rich, buttery and nutty. They add a lot of depth to this warm salad.
Since I am usually in a rush when making dinner, I don’t want to spend extra time making salad dressing, so I like to simply drizzle over fresh lemon juice and zest, mixed with a fruity olive oil.
Finish the salad with a little salt and pepper and you are good to go! In the 10 minutes that the Minute® Rice Brown Rice cooks, you can chop up all the veggies, and toast up the pine nuts. In 10 minutes dinner is made. This rice is a great pantry staple to save you time during the week! To make this even more appealing, it is hearty and filling while also being surprisingly healthy. You can add whatever meat you like, or keep it a vegan/vegetarian style meal that everyone will like, even the meat-eaters in your life.
I also like eating the leftovers (if there are any) the next day for lunch. It can be eaten warm or cold, but I always seem to like my leftovers cold!
For recipe ideas and special offers from Minute® Rice straight sent to your inbox, join their Riceipe Club® by signing up here! You can also visit minuterice.com for over 400 recipe ideas to give you breakfast, lunch, and dinner inspiration, and more information about the Minute® Rice family of products!
*This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Minute® Rice
Warm Brown Rice and Kale Salad with Cranberries and Pine Nuts
3 cups cooked Minute® Rice, brown rice
3-4 cups kale, stems removed, chopped
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1 fennel bulb, thinly sliced, then chopped; about 1 cup
1/3 cup pine nuts; toasted
1 teaspoon lemon zest
2 tablespoons lemon juice
3-4 tablespoons olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
*Cook the rice according to package directions
*Place the pine nuts in a dry skillet over medium heat and cook until lightly toasted; this happens quickly so be sure to keep an eye on it!
*Remove the stems from the kale, and roughly chop the kale
*Thinly slice the fennel, then roughly chop it
*Place the chopped kale, fennel, cranberries, and pine nuts into a large bowl
*Toss in the warm, cooked rice
*In a separate bowl, combine the lemon zest, juice, and 3 tablespoons of olive oil
*Drizzle the lemon/olive oil dressing over the rice mixture, and toss to combine
*Add more olive oil if needed
*Add salt and pepper to taste
*Fresh cheese and/or herbs can be added as well!